End Birthright Citizenship

Michael Anton argues in the Washington Post today that “birthright citizenship”—the idea, which the U.S. Supreme Court appeared to affirm in 1898, that simply being born on U.S. soil automatically confers U.S. citizenship—should be ended.

Anton calls the notion “an absurdity—historically, constitutionally, philosophically and practically,” and built on a deliberate misreading of the 14th Amendment. (It’s positively medieval!) And he makes the crucial point that the Supreme Court in the Wong Kim Ark case endorsed birthright citizenship for the children of legal residents, not tourists or aliens in the country temporarily or illegally.

Here’s the crux of Anton’s argument:

Congress could clarify legislatively that the children of noncitizens are not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, and thus not citizens under the 14th Amendment. But given the open-borders enthusiasm of congressional leaders of both parties, that’s unlikely.

It falls, then, to Trump. An executive order could specify to federal agencies that the children of noncitizens are not citizens. Such an order would, of course, immediately be challenged in the courts. But officers in all three branches of government—the president no less than judges—take similar oaths to defend the Constitution. Why shouldn’t the president act to defend the clear meaning of the 14th Amendment?

Our friend Ed Erler—whom Anton quotes in his column—has written at length on the subject. If you’re not into reading, Erler discusses the pitfalls and problems with birthright citizenship in a four-part video series for the Claremont Institute. Here’s part one…

About Ben Boychuk

Ben Boychuk is managing editor of American Greatness. He is a former weekly syndicated columnist with Tribune Media, and a veteran of several publications, including City Journal, Investor's Business Daily, and the Claremont Review of Books. He lives in California.

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